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3 things to watch during Tom Price’s confirmation hearing

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., tears a page from the national health-care bill during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 21, 2012, in Washington, DC.
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Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., tears a page from the national health-care bill during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 21, 2012, in Washington, DC.

Having served as the chair of the House Budget committee, Rep. Tom Price knows a thing or two about congressional hearings. But this time President-elect Donald Trump's pick for secretary of Health and Human Services will be in the hot seat, when he goes before the Senate in the first of two confirmation hearings on Wednesday.

The six-term Republican from Georgia has been one of the leading opponents to Obamacare in Congress, and an advocate for the restructuring of the Medicaid and Medicare health entitlement programs. Democrats have vowed to fight the nomination of Price, an orthopedic surgeon.

Price's confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will be a warmup for his appearance before the Senate Finance Committee, which will actually vote on his nomination.

Here are three hot-button issues to watch:

Stock portfolio and trading

Price vowed to divest stock holdings if confirmed. In a letter to congressional ethics regulators last week, he listed holdings of more than three dozen stocks, including health-related companies Aetna, Biogen and Zimmer Biomet Holdings.

Democratic Sens. Al Franken of Minnesota, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin have raised questions about conflicts of interests arising from his trading in health-care stocks as a member of Congress.

Policy differences with his boss

Price has proposed restructuring Medicare funding by converting traditional Medicare into more of a market-based system, a move he says will prevent the health entitlement program from going broke.

Critics charge that this could raise health-care costs for the elderly and reduce their access to medical care through limited networks.

Trump has opposed privatizing Medicare.

This isn't the only policy where Price is at odds with his boss. Price has opposed giving Medicare authority for negotiating drug prices, but in an interview with The Washington Post, Trump again said he wants to push for drug-price negotiation as part of his administration's replacement of Obamacare.


Obamacare replacement cost

The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday estimated that the GOP's repeal effort would result in 32 million people losing health insurance coverage in 10 years, and that premiums in the individual market would likely increase 20 to 25 percent in the first year after repeal, and double by 2026.

The confirmation hearing before the Health Committee begins at 10 a.m. ET.